Pontus is one of the reasons we changed our feature title from Band of the Day… as he’s not a band!
New York. This is my solo project. I used to call it PHWG, now I just call it Pontus.
How did you meet the other musicians you work with?
I’ve played with a ton of different musicians in this band. Currently I have played with Tripp Dudley (drums and tabla) the longest – around 8 years or so. But I have worked with most of the musicians for the last 5 years or so.
How long have you been performing?
I have had this solo project since 2007 (but then it was mainly a project studio recording thing) – I used to put together multimedia shows – with samples and backing tracks. I started performing live band stuff about 10 years ago.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
At first, I used my full name initials – PHWG. Often that was a mouthful to introduce, it kind of sounded like something fell out of your mouth. Someone I worked with said “You should just go as Pontus – that sounds cool” so that’s what I do now.
What are your influences?
Dream Theater’ish with Pink Floyd / Bach / and a dash of Jean-Michel and sometimes a splash of King Crimson.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
Cinematic Progressive Instrumental Rock. That’s a lot of word – at its core it is instrumental rock music. I try to find influences in a lot of styles of music and absorb sonic and musical ideas from all directions.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
It’s instrumental music – but my ultimate goal is to develop stories that will accompany most of the music. So far, I have a handful of stories for the music.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
I used to incorporate multimedia – live video with the show. I want to get back to that – but these days it usually a 5-piece band – Electric guitar, drums / table (Indian Percussion), Bass, Cello, and electronics (samples or synths). I’ve played too many shows to really remember.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
Hmmmm – I cannot recall any real G.G Allen moments… One of the shows I did they venue had a serious leak in the ceiling, so the engineer said he had to put a bucket where the leak was… and it was right next to me. So the whole gig I basically had to play around this damn bucket of water, just hoping that it didn’t spill over and electrocute the band! A bunch of times it started leaking on my head and pedal board.
Another gig I did at the Lit Lounge (East Village). I had placed my multimedia stuff on top of a small table, because I was running backing tracks and a projector on there. The sound guy had probably mixed for a club / house mix because the bass was on max. As soon as the bass and drum parts came in from the backing tracks everything started to rattle and shake, including the disc with the backing tracks. Things started skipping – sooooo – I had to find my way and random spots in the music. It sort of worked out – after the sound guy had returned from his smoke break and he lowered the bass…
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
My drummer – Tripp Dudley – is not only a fantastic drummer but also a great tabla player. So usually we incorporate live Tabla with drums at the live gigs. I play a Gibson SG Zoot Suit and a fairly basic pedal board (Compressor (I hardly use it), Tube OD, Friedman Dirty Shirley, TC Delay). I am usually fine playing the backline Fender Twin or similar. For recording sessions, I usually use Marshall or Mesa Boogie heads.
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
My new album Black Hole BBQ from Pontus.
What are your plans for 2021?
New year – new plan. Most of 2020 was mainly spent trying to get by in a pandemic New York city life. I have been stuck in our railroad apartment with two young kids and my wife – working full time, teaching, kids going to school on their iPads (being a 2nd graders IT tech support). I am ready to play live now – when things are safe to do – I also want to start writing new material and promote my album Black Hole BBQ
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
It would be fun to be on a very random bill – like Khruangbin – Pontus – Russian Circles. Sort of warm up the crowd with the mellow and sweet tones of Khruangbin – then I can do my blend of Progressive Rock and then end the night with some Russian Circle rock. Fun gig
A local band from New York that you might want to check out is Consider the Source – a Sci-fi Fusion Trio (as they call themselves). Its instrumental progressive (space) rock with Indian and Middle Eastern influences. The guitarist Gabriel Marin plays on a double necked guitar (where one of the necks are fretless). Good stuff.